One killed, 7 hurt in second Ascension plant blast
Don Ames Reporting
A second blast in two days has killed a worker at an Ascension Parish chemical plant, just miles from the site where two workers were killed a day earlier.
One person was killed and seven others were injured while a truck was offloading nitrogen at the CF Industries plant in Donaldsonville Friday night. Crews may have overpressurized a nitrogen canister, causing it to rupture and burst.
The plant was in the midst of a turnaround and there was no amonia on site. State Police Colonel Mike Edmonson said the blast was mechanical in nature and that there was no fire and no one outside of the plant was compromised.
The deceased victim was identified as 56-year-old Ronald "Rocky" Morris. Edmonson said Morris died instantly near the blast.
CF Industries said one employee remains hospitalized in stable condition; the other workers have been released.
Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley said the incident occurred around 6:45 p.m. Friday, just a day after two people were killed and 77 were injured at a plant in Geismar Thursday.
"It's been a trying time in Ascension Parish the past few days," said Wiley, alluding to Friday night's deadly incident along with the fatal explosion about 20 miles away in Geismar Thursday.
The CF Industries web site says the Donaldsonville plant is "North America’s largest and, in many respects, its most flexible nitrogen operation. It can produce and ship approximately 5 million tons of nitrogen for agricultural and industrial uses each year."
This isn't the first deadly blast at the company's Donaldsonville plant. Three workers were killed and nine others were injured by an explosion and fire at the facility in May 2000.
Later that year, the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration imposed a fine of nearly $150,000 against CF Industries. OSHA cited the company for 14 alleged safety and health violations, 12 of which were described by the agency as serious. The company didn't contest the citations and agreed to pay the penalties.